Bill Seeks to Legalize Status of Immigrant U.S. Military Families

Bill Seeks to Legalize Status of Immigrant U.S. Military Families

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 CHICAGO - A bill seeking permanent residency for families of immigrants, including Filipinos, actively serving in the U.S. military is now pending before the U.S. Senate.

Senate Bill 2757, or the Military Families Act, was filed by Sen. Robert Menendez last November. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. According to the U.S. Senate, there are 114,601 foreign-born individuals serving in the armed forces as of June 30, 2009, or almost 8 percent of the 1.4 million total military personnel on active duty.

Under the bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General is authorized to adjust the “status for immediate family members of persons who served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States, during the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, and for other purposes."

The bill has earned the support of other Democratic senators, including Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who has also pushed for a provision in the bill that would cover the children of Filipino World War II veterans.

The provision would give the child of a Filipino parent, who was naturalized based on active duty during World War II service in the Philippine Army, Philippine Scouts, or a recognized guerrilla unit, a chance to be lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.

To qualify for permanent residence under the act, family members must be admissible as a U.S. immigrant; pay a fee (unless waived); be physically present in the United States; and must be a parent, spouse, child, son, or daughter (and their spouse, child, son, or daughter, if any) of a living member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

If the member has died, the death should be a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by the member’s service.

The Armed Forces member should likewise be a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and has served on or after Oct. 7, 2001 as a member of the National Guard or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or in active-duty status in the military, air, or naval forces of the United States.

If separated from the service, the Armed Forces member must have been “separated under honorable conditions."

Certain grounds of inadmissibility may be waived for humanitarian purposes, such as to assure family unity, the bill further proposes.